Tongariro Times October 2012

Tongariro Times October 2012

Another fabulous AGM weekend...

Project Tongariro’s 28th AGM held on 13 October also provided a chance to see conservation in action on Blue Duck Station. Reached via Owhango the station is located at the end of the road at the junction of the Retaruke and Wanganui River. It was an extremely interesting weekend not too far from our patch in TNP.

Twenty five members attended the AGM held at the Blue Duck café. The main points from the meeting were: 

a) Despite the global finance crisis, the Society is in very good financial heart and once again our organisation has continued to participate fully in a diversity of conservation, educational, historical and recreational projects. If you would like to download a copy of the 2011- 2012 Annual Report - Click Here

b) Changes to the Rules of the Society were approved at the AGM which means past and existing members will not be asked for annual subscriptions anymore but will remain members in perpetuity. For new members, joining is now by way of a one-off entrance fee of $50. As we now deal entirely with members via email and our website at very little cost we are able to make this change. We feel confident this change will allow us to not only retain but to grow our list of committed members.

c) I stood down as president after three years but remain on the executive. Paul Green is the new president – congratulations and thanks! Members of the previous executive were all elected unopposed: Roy Dench, Frank Katavich, Dave Bamford, Maureen Smith, Shirley Potter, Peter McNaughton and Mark Davies (DOC rep).

Following the AGM many members set out to walk a few of the stations trails. Wet weather mean raincoats were out in force. Gaiters were the most valuable piece of equipment as the mud was splodgy and deep to say the least! There were enthusiastic reports about historic buildings, flowering clematis and a spectacular waterfall. Dinner was a beautiful meal of goat curry followed by a choice of desserts. As always it was wonderful to catch up and enjoy the company of enthusiastic members.

After dinner, Harry Keys gave a talk about the August eruption from new vents centred on upper Te Maari crater on Mt Tongariro. He explained the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was due to open at Labour Weekend and one outstanding issue remained – the matter of when and if a lake which had developed on the mountain following a landslide – would fail. This prompted a myriad of questions and all the while the rain continued to fall. As it happened it was also teeming in Tongariro National Park at the time.

Next day, Harry left with Jo and Neil Baxter before breakfast and they travelled home via the Lake Rotoaira road. A slurry of muddy debris was on the road near the turnoff to Ketetahi car park. It turns out the dam had failed at around midnight (not long after Harry’s talk!). A visit to the site and look at the lahar deposit revealed that boulders up to 2 metres wide had been mobilised. Debris covered a section of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing track below Ketetahi Hut in the bush near the 18 kilometre mark. With the lake gone, so too had the mudflow hazard. What excellent timing!

For those who remained at the station, owner Dan Steele led a tour of the property and entertained us with stories about local historical events and his farming and conservation plans.

All in all, it was a great trip to the wop-wops.

Karen Williams

We need volunteers for The Goat! - Saturday 1 December 2012

The Goat is an epic 21-km alpine adventure run around the base of imposing Mt Ruapehu on the Round the Mountain track.  It's an exhilarating journey from Whakapapa to Turoa ski areas with captivating views of Mount Taranaki and the Central Plateau. The Goat traverses a variety of terrain, starting and finishing on the ski access roads and covering a stunning array of volcanic landforms, mountain beech forest, alpine herb fields and spectacular glacial river valleys.

This event would not be possible without marshals from Project Tongariro. The Goat is an adventurous and enjoyable day out for volunteers on the Round the Mountain track. The competitors revel in the encouragement and support from the marshaling team which for many competitors is one of the highlights of their day.

If you decide to volunteer, this is what is provided for your valuable time:

Friday and Saturday night accommodation in National Park
+ dinner Saturday night

Please let Kiri, Project Tongariro coordinator and team leader, know if need accommodation so she can arrange the correct number of beds.  Further information about your accommodation location / check-in times etc will be provided in the lead-up week – for now, we just need to know how many beds.

Saturday event
- An energy-packed lunch for the day with a bottle of water and electrolytes that will be handed to you by the Peak Safety team on event day. 
- Laminated course map with all marshal points and event safety instructions- A first aid kit
- A whistle
- Key event mobile numbers list (in laminated pocket card format)
- Where needed, a communications radio (operating instructions will be provided by Peak Safety).
- Peak Safety personnel will be carrying two satellite phones on the track

Should the weather not be suitable to stage the event on Saturday a reserve day is in place on Sunday 2 December. If you are not able to commit to marshalling on Sunday, can you please advise us so we can make alternative arrangements.

This event is a great little earner for Project Tongariro as we get a payment for all our marshalling efforts.   So get involved and support PT and these crazy runners.  If interested in helping, please email or phone 07 386 6499. 


PBP Vouchers for Volunteers - $3000 worth of petrol vouchers

Project Tongariro is the recipient of $3000 worth of BP New Zealand petrol vouchers as part of their Vouchers for Volunteers scheme.  Thanks BP for your ongoing support of our volunteers and their amazing work and commitment to conservation in NZ.Every year BP New Zealand donates petrol vouchers to charity organisations throughout the country as part of its Vouchers for Volunteers programme. Today it announced the recipients of more than $185,000 worth of vouchers nationwide.Ten charities in the Central Plateau received a total of $6,700. The recipient of the largest amount in the region was Project Tongariro which received $3,000.  Project Tongariro runs a number of conservation, historical, recreational and natural heritage projects and has more than 300 volunteers all over the North Island.BP Managing Director, Matt Elliott, said that Project Tongariro was a deserving recipient. “Project Tongariro’s volunteers are involved in a diverse range of projects that will improve the region and have a huge impact on New Zealand as a whole.  “We are delighted that we can support Project Tongariro’s work with a share of the more than $185,000 of vouchers donated to charities around New Zealand.”  Mr Elliott said that BP was proud to be involved in the scheme. Vouchers for Volunteers has been running for seven years.  “Every day thousands of volunteers give up their spare time to help others who are less fortunate. This is our way of saying ‘Thank you’ and to do our bit to ensure volunteers can continue their good work,” he said. 


Planting day at Waiotaka, Te Matapuna Wetland

16 volunteers joined in on the Waiotaka Planting Day at Te Matapuna Wetland over the weekend. It was a spectacular day with much better weather than anticipated. The crew put in all 500 plants by 11am.  Qhat a team! Afterwards the team enjoyed had a cruisey BBQ lunch back on DOC's deck. 

Next planting day - 24 November 2012 - come and join us!

Nursery Work

If you fancy yourself as a bit of a green thumb, or if you just want to get involved, then join the crew at the Project Tongariro Nursery the first Tuesday of every month throughout the summer months from 930am to 1230pm.  Led by our resident ecologist and all round great guy Nick Singers, the nursery team ensures our plants are well cared for and ready to be planted at various planting days scheduled at the likes of Te Matapuna Wetland and the Tussock Revegetation site at the Tukino Mountain Road.

2012 Memorial Award Recipients

Project Tongariro's Memorial Award was established by the society in memory of Keith Maurice Blumhardt, William Edward Cooper, Douglas Neal McKenzie, Derek Ian White and Marie Pauline Williams, who died on Mt Ruapehu while testing helicopter rescue equipment on 9 December 1982.The award is open to any applicant for study – for fauna, flora, geology, volcanology, weather and natural and human history of Tongariro National Park. Since the inaugural award in 1991, 35 young researchers have benefited from these awards enabling a wide range of research to be done in the park from heather, to bats, skinks, kiwi, stoats, to visitor stats, to geology, to lahars, to botany and climate.  An amazing legacy.  Have a look at the past recipients and their projects here.

This year an uprecedented four students have been awarded a Project Tongariro Memorial Award education grant for their research and projects in and around Tongariro National Park.  There were some high quality applicants and Project Tongariro is very pleased to be able to assist these students in their scientific research.

Erin Hill

Psychological and Health Benefits for Users of Tongariro National ParkErin Hill is currently a PhD candidate studying health psychology at the Auckland University of Technology. Erin has wide-ranging research interests involving environmental, personality, and behavioural influences on health and well-being. Through a review of environmental and health psychological principles, Erin is excited to be researching the psychological and health benefits for users of Tongariro National Park. Environmental psychology and public health research continues to highlight the importance of conservation of natural green-spaces in both urban settings and national parks. Access to natural landscapes and parks has various benefits for physical and psychological health. These benefits can largely be explained by current environmental psychology theories including attention restoration theory, stress-reduction theory, and the biophilia hypothesis. Erin’s project, funded by the Project Tongariro Memorial Award, will involve an extensive review of these theories and current research that are relevant to the activities undertaken by users of TNP. Through this research, Erin hopes to bring light to the physical and psychological health benefits of access to the natural and dramatic landscapes of the park and related activities. This research will also aim to provide direction for future quantitative studies on this topic. 


Shaun Eves

The Timing of Past Glaciation in Tongariro National ParkEvidence for former, more extensive glaciation in Tongariro National Park has long been recognised. Distinctive glacial landforms have been identified far down-valley from the small modern glaciers, which suggests that colder climates prevailed in the geological past. Documenting the configuration of former ice masses through geomorphological mapping allows estimation of past temperature and precipitation. However, in order to understand the mechanisms of past climate change, it is essential to know the precise timing of these events.This project will apply a state-of-the-art geochemical technique, known as ‘cosmogenic exposure dating’, to determine when the identified glacial features were deposited. This involves the measurement of rare atoms that have accumulated in boulders since they were deposited by glaciers. These atoms are generated in rocks at the Earth’s surface, through interaction with cosmic rays from supanovae explosions in outer space. The rate of cosmogenic atom production is known, therefore by measuring the amount accumulated in glacially-transported boulders we can determine how much time has passed since glaciers were last at a given position. Application of this technique in TNP will greatly increase understanding of past climate change in the central North Island. 


James Cowlyn

The significance of the Volcanic Phenomena; Pyroclastic FlowsJames' research as part of his PhD studies at the University of Canterbury, and in partnership with scientists at Massey University and GNS Science, focuses on documenting large-scale volcanic activity at Mt Ruapehu.  In particular, he is investigating the significance of one of the most deadly of all volcanic phenomena; pyroclastic flows.  These fast-moving avalanches of hot rock and gas have largely been overlooked as a hazard at Ruapehu, which in historic times has produced only relatively small-scale eruptions.  However, recent discoveries of young (<30,000 years) pyroclastic flow deposits on Ruapehu’s eastern flanks show that the volcano is capable of far more hazardous styles of eruption.  By documenting these deposits, James hopes to characterise the volcano’s potential for these kinds of eruptions, and also to better understand the physical processes that lead to pyroclastic flows at Ruapehu.  This will be valuable for understanding possible future volcanic hazards at Ruapehu and similar volcanoes worldwide. 


Jessie Prebble

The Taxonomy of the rare tag-named entity, Myosotis aff. pygmaea “Volcanic Plateau”As a part of Jessie's PhD studying native forget-me-nots (Myosotis, Boragincaeae) she is going to be looking at the taxonomy of a rare tag-named entity, Myosotis aff. pygmaea “Volcanic Plateau”. This potential species has long been identified by field botanists as looking different to other species in the M. pygmaea group, but no one has made a systematic study to see how different it really is.  Jessie will be applying morphology-based research and population genetic techniques to this question, which has implications for conservation as this taxon is considered “naturally uncommon”, with qualifiers that it undergoes extreme fluctuations, is range restricted, and is sparse. In order to study this taxon properly it is important to visit populations from across its range, as well as populations of other morphologically similar species, and Jessie will be spending about 10 days in the field in the Volcanic Plateau area this coming summer. 


Pocket Ranger - 2012 NZ Innovators Awards Finalist

Our very own Pocket Ranger smartphone guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing was recently held in high profile as a finalist at the NZ Innovators Awards.  Although our entry was pipped at the post by Kiwibank, the judges were very favourable towards our innovation.  Their comments were as follows:

"This really demonstrates excellence in innovation.  This is a highly innovative use of Quick Response (QR) Codes.  I love the mix of safety and conservation with the savvy use of technology that is highly tuned to market needs.  I think over time this will become a valuable source of revenue as local businesses will see the value of this as a marketing channel. A fantastic project and awesome result.  Congratulations to the team.  Great to see social enterprise generating income with a cool idea."

The finalist announcement was aptly timed as it coincided with the release of the GPS and iPad versions of the App which includes 'you are here' functionality.  The App is now a truly mobile tool for users of the Tongariro Alpine Crossing and with the added recognition from Ideas Accelerator including an article in the latest Idealog magazine, the Pocket Ranger is well on its way to becoming a powerful tool for Project Tongariro.

30th Anniversary Memorial Walk  - Sunday 9th December 2012 
10 am - Meet carpark bottom Ohakune Mountain Road, own vehicles

Crash Site: Join us in a walk to the helicopter crash site in which four park staff died exactly 30 years ago (9 December 1982). This tragedy led to the establishment of the Tongariro Natural History Society (now called Project Tongariro) as a living memorial. On a good day the views from here of Ruapehu are spectacular. 15 minutes’ walk from the road across alpine shrubland.

Turoa Alpine Flush: Drive on to the top of Mountain Road. Lunch in the vicinity and talk about this zone, its special plants and Project Tongariro’s role here. (No walking involved).

South-east basin walk: Those who’re keen can join Harry Keys in a tramp from the base of Turoa ski area to South-east Basin to view Column Rocks and Turoa’s newest ski lift, Nga Wai Heke. 1 km each way, approximately 2.5 hours return.


Upcoming activities and events - your chance to get involved!

Saddle Cone Tramp

Sat 17 Nov 2012

Te Matapuna Wetland Planting Day

Sat 24 Nov 2012

The Goat 

Sat 1 Dec 2012

30th Anniversary Memorial Walk

Sun 9 Dec 2012

Summer Nature Programme - Active in the Park

27 Dec 2012 to 13 Jan 2013

Kite Day

Tues 1 Jan 2013

Tussock Traverse

Sat 26 Jan 2013


Check out the Tongariro Journals Library - now online 1999 to 2011 Journals. 

Download the Pocket Ranger - the smartpone app that is your guide to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Don't forget to 'like' us on Facebook 

Posted: Mon 29 Oct 2012

Roel Michels